Potentially Losing The Race: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Running the Race (Part 3)

I sincerely hope that this blog does not really apply to you. However, living in this world provides ample opportunity to become discouraged and return to what we initially intended to escape.

The pressure to conform to the status quo never stops. This is true respecting our Christian commitment, as well as our desire to educate the children at home.

By now, you have learned how to address the concerns of loved ones regarding home education. You may have become so weary of the “socialization” question that you have invented a “less than gracious answer” and you have become convinced that you are not ruining your children’s lives!

Still, the pressure is on and life is not fair or particular as to who gets what problems, only that they are inevitable.

Parents can be tempted to quit and they do occasionally “lose their wheels” and trip while Running The Race. It can happen at any time of the year and at any point in the journey, but January and February seem to be the worst times.

Remember the statement made at the beginning, the one about “requiring a lot of effort and faith”? If there is no biblical foundation in your life, you are free to do as you please. If you do have a biblical foundation in place, you are still free to do as you please, only in this case, you no doubt started home educating as a conviction.

Knowing that God has directed parents to train, teach and disciple their children, with no provision to abdicate that responsibility to “hired, replacement parents” in a very dysfunctional “gigantic age-segregated family,” how does one veer from this revelation?

Is God confused? Does He require one thing of us in the beginning and then change His mind and redirect us in complete opposition to His Word? Some parents have even stated that “God has given them a peace” about quitting home education. Really? Who is confused?

It is safe to conclude that, in order to avoid having to admit and deal with our struggles and fears, we deflect the issues by justifying our decision and by claiming that it is God’s will.

This is where confusion has set in, and it is quite often that parents in this situation become tired of Running The Race, believing that they cannot provide what is best for their children.

Is quitting the answer? Do you think that anyone else can do a better job of training children than loving parents? Is being tired an excuse to quit? If frustrated, is quitting the answer or is fixing the issue causing the frustration the wisest thing to do? If the children are “driving you crazy”, is sending them elsewhere a solution?

In making that decision, are you not just postponing today’s problems until tomorrow, when those problems are likely to become much more serious?

Before quitting, consider the following:

Nothing will change the fact that God is God and that He has directed parents to train, teach and direct their children to Him so He can direct them in their lives. Review your reasons for home educating in the first place and ask yourself what has changed.

Everybody experiences a crisis of faith from time to time, and you are no different. If you are in a crisis of faith, remember that it is temporary and in time, will pass. Seek a friend or mentor to encourage you.

Even though continuing on may occasionally seem difficult, Paul’s letter to the Galatians instructs us to “not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Remember that the darkest hour is usually just before the dawn.

Trials are to be expected in life. Learn and grow from them.

Finally, hang in there, God is not finished with you or your children. He is allowing you to be tested and He would never allow this testing to go beyond what you can endure.

Quitting may be the easiest solution, but it is a temporary one. As you have undoubtedly heard before, quitters never win. Sending your children to an institution can turn your children’s hearts from God to the world and its views and negatively influence family relationships.

Bringing the institution home is no better and not necessary, as there is no need for high school accreditation. We will address these issues in the next portion of this series.

In the meantime, remember our discussion about having to sacrifice when given children. Remember that we said that this sacrifice can be expressed as parents sacrificing themselves for the sake of the children or children being sacrificed for the sake of the parents.

The enemy wants your children and he wants them bad. He is fearful of fully equipped believers who can inflict damage to his diabolical plan.

The home educated are likely his biggest concern as he has not had the opportunity to poison their thinking to distrust God and His promises. And he has no lack of volunteers to aid him in discouraging parents who have determined to follow God’s directives rather than his schemes.

Perhaps keeping your children home is the simplest solution to keep them out of harm’s way, but nobody said it was going to be easy.

Trust me. You will never regret having kept your children at home, but you are sure to question the wisdom of sending them back to school or bringing that failed human institution home.

It is best to continue on your home education journey, so you can Finish Strong.

Training For The Race: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Running the Race (Part 2)

The most common issue that arises during the “Running The Race” phase of home education is familiarity. The mother is always with the children and the children start to see her as one of them. Fathers have to be especially diligent in having the children keep a healthy respect for their mother during this time.

Dad also can become a little complacent, since mom is doing such a good job. It is true that if “something isn’t broken it is not wise to fix it,” but it is also true that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The overriding principle at this stage becomes “if momma isn’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”

Dad should take mom out on a date, giving her a chance to bounce some ideas, vent a little and to enjoy some “adult company.” It is probably a good thing to make a habit of this. Mom needs to be encouraged too and there is no one who can do this better than a loving, faithful, caring and responsible husband.

The father HAS to be involved in the training, teaching and discipling of their children, at all times, as this is HIS responsibility and not the mother’s, even though the mother does most of the work involved in the home education.

The mother’s role is simply to be a helpmeet, that is, to help the father meet his goals for the preparation of his children to be good citizens of this world while serving God in every way.

I have found that if the father is not seriously involved in this part of the training, he is largely disqualified from being taken seriously by the children after puberty. Fathers may not be physically there, in the home, on a day to day basis, but their authority, which comes from God should be omnipresent.

I cannot overstate the importance of having the father take and demonstrate responsibility in the education of his children, with mother actively performing the task on his behalf.

It should also be noted that even though academic study is important, it pales in comparison with understanding who God is and how He desires to be part of our lives.

Let’s take a close look at a couple of Bible verses to get a vision of our goal as Christian home educating parents.

Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it,” is the most quoted verse in the home education world. Although we may quote it often, do we truly understand what it means?

It says train, not teach, up a child, not an adult. Training is just that. The repeating and repeating of things to the young, until it is finally absorbed. Training is aimed at the heart, not the head, which is the target for teaching.

Training the heart is what should take place before puberty arrives. There is plenty of time for teaching the head afterwards. If the heart is not trained before puberty, you may end up with an educated person, yet someone without a moral rudder. This is becoming all too common, these days.

It may be instructive at this point to expose the fact that schools constantly talk of teaching, and almost never, if ever, mention training until the post-secondary level. I believe this shows that the status quo education system is either not interested in training children, or fully understand that the heart is what needs to be targeted, secretly perhaps, with the Godless, unbiblical, anti-Christian message it advances under the banner of neutrality. Think about this.

Back to Proverbs 22:6. I interpret the “in the way that he should go” portion as “in keeping with whom I have created.” God has already created the child who does not need to be improved upon. God saw that His creation was not just good, but very good, after he had created man. I believe God sees every child as complete and very good.

It is not our place to create something of our child, but to develop what has already been created. As stated by Abram’s coach in the movie Chariots of Fire, “it is not a good thing to try to put in what God has left out.”

The training of a child is therefore best described as writing the truth in their hearts. This is done constantly not only in word, but also, in deed.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9, also a commonly quoted verse in the home education world, tells us just what should be written in the hearts of children, stating that this is the responsibility of parents, fathers in particular, and that it can only be successful when constantly reinforced in daily living. Sounds like home education to me.

Once the truth has been written in their hearts, even if they deny it, run from it, pretend it doesn’t exist or simply turn their backs on it, it remains etched on the walls of their very being. That is why it states “and when he grows old, he shall not depart from it.”

No matter what, truth written in the heart of a child is there to stay. They may be adults before they return to the fold, so to speak, but it will happen because the truth written in their hearts by loving parents cannot be erased.

Train up a child, in keeping with what God has created, by constantly reiterating, demonstrating, reinforcing and writing the truth on the walls of his heart, before he reaches puberty.

Making this training a part of Running The Race stage of learning will best prepare children for that day when, having gone through puberty, the teaching phase of the home education can proceed in earnest.

Running the Race: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Running the Race (Part 1)

Click here to watch this entire series’ video playlist on YouTube.

We all know that any venture has three parts: starting, doing and completing. We should also know that as difficult as getting something started may be, it is the doing part that requires the greatest amount of time and effort, with finishing usually coming fairly easily at the end.

This is not the case with home education. Getting started is usually the most difficult. This is because all of our status quo educational experiences have to be overcome. Not only that, but everybody else’s hang-ups seem to end up being “our” problems.

Completing a home education journey can also be difficult, depending on just how much pressure you are facing from the outside.

Before I continue, I would like to suggest that you take the time to review the blogs completed thus far in this series. If you have not been closely following, it would be a good idea to get the background and if you have, simply do so as a refresher. Most of the hang-ups you have had to overcome have been already been dealt with there.

Once having gotten out of the gate, so to speak, having established the foundation and the goal, having found the best fit for a provider, and having determined the how, the where and the why of home education, the easiest part is the actual day to day task of providing opportunity for the children to learn.

Usually after the first year, most of the anxieties, fears and insecurities will have diminished. Sadly, there will always be that lingering nagging feeling that you may have made the wrong decision and there will be no lack of people to “encourage” you with these doubts and misgivings.

By now you have had a chance to reconsider the things you thought were important, some of which you will now see as silly. You may even regret having implemented some of these things, but take heart. As important as starting may be, it is not so important how you start, but how you Run The Race.

If you are struggling with doubts and fears, or you have lost your initial vision, perhaps you have been listening to or following the wrong people.

If you find that fundamentally nothing has changed regarding why you chose to home educate in the first place, then re-evaluate what has been going well and continue or improve on those things. Discard the things that haven’t been working.

This season of your home education journey could very well be the most fun you will have as a family. The children are little, they see their parents as perfect (I believe God has temporarily blinded them!), and once past the Learning To Read phase, they are like sponges just soaking up the information from the opportunities you provide them.

However, one must always keep in mind that younger children must be treated as such, and not as adults. It is good to give children responsibilities, no doubt, but not major decisions that will affect their lives.

When children squeak about going to or going back to school, the answer is no! Sometimes they just want what other children have which may be as simple as buying them a backpack!

If you started without having sent the children to school, this new, more comfortable phase, will continue until the children enter puberty.

Should you have started home education from a school situation, the outcomes of this phase will depend on just how much time the student spent in school.

Generally speaking, it is fair to say that the more time spent in school, the greater the number of “school issues” that may have to be dealt with, on both the parent’s and the student’s part, and the longer it may take to get things working in this new paradigm of home education.

Even if really comfortable with your decision to home educate and even if things are going relatively well, problems and issues will arise from time to time. As long as you have committed to home education and not just picked it as an option presented to you by the world, you should be able to get past them when they arise.

Truth is, there would have been problems and issues had you sent the children to school. In comparison, home based issues are relatively minor, so “get over it”!

The most difficult part of getting started was likely having to review, renew or replace the school-based thinking that you were tempted to bring home. Once you have overcome those temptations, your ongoing challenge will likely be the continual vigilance to avoid slipping back into that snare.

Gradually and eventually, both parents and students should find comfort in learning within the environment created by God for the training and teaching of children, namely, the home. We have found that after the first year has been accomplished, parents (and students) are better equipped to carry on.

We call it being on home education “cruise control” and it will likely go fairly smoothly until you reach the finishing part, which will not necessarily be more difficult, but it will be different. We will talk about that later.

Measuring Progress: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Getting Started (Part 8)

Once beginning home educators develop a workable household division of labour, establish a working schedule and a work place as well as find a suitable curriculum, the big question becomes: where and how will you lead the children, as their most influential leaders?

We addressed that question in an earlier version of this series and came to the conclusion that the best place to lead them was to the omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God who ultimately has, not only the authority, but a clear vision of the future we can only see dimly.

But this leads to yet another question which is: how will you know that you are accomplishing the task and how well are you doing it? This is usually where questions on testing and standards come in.

Anybody who has given testing some serious thought will realize that it is one of life’s guarantees. Hardly a day goes by that we are not tested in some way.

Testing, as in determining if the children have understood the concept, is fine, but one must remember that this also is a school based practice. Consider that in a classroom there are a large number of students and usually but one teacher. Even a super teacher can only do a superficial assessment of any individual student’s accomplishments.

That is why there are tests designed to give the teacher an idea of how well the information presented has been understood. The problem is, even if a student can repeat a concept, it does not mean he or she understands it and knows how to apply it in real life.

Also to be considered is the question of whether a good mark indicates a good understanding or simply good memorization and/or test writing skills.

My personal experience in the classroom has shown that when the identical test is given a few days later, there is usually a reduction in grades. Clearly, good memorizers can easily become good forgetters. So, in my opinion, test marks are not a really good indicator of competency or proficiency.

A student learning at home is not in a classroom and does not have to share the attention of the teacher with a couple dozen other students.

Likewise, the “teacher” in a home education does not have to spread her efforts among a classroom full of students.

Therefore, testing is not necessary in a home education as the parent can directly observe whether the child has mastered the concept or not.

Of even greater concern for most parents still overcoming their school based thinking is the whole question of meeting standards. Are the children where they are supposed to be? Are they ahead or behind; better or worse than the average? This issue becomes a non-issue when a simple question is asked: ahead or behind or better or worse than what?

Neither governments, schools, nor teachers can clearly define or demonstrate what standards are for education, aside from expecting everyone to do the same thing at the same time.

Standards are a myth! When considering that over seven billion people are living on earth today and that no two are the same, each having unique fingerprints, how can one even suggest that there is a standard?

Chasing after an average is also futile, as that is entirely dependent on the group being “averaged”! Your children are unique, meaning their “average” and the “standard” to which they are educated is entirely dependent on who they are, where they are, how they learn and what they are capable of.

A much better goal than reaching undefined “standards” or some evasive “average” is what comes naturally for parents. Set high, yet reasonable expectations for your children. Not perfection, of course, but an expectation that things will be done well and on time.

Not only is that more realistic than “standards” or “averages,” but it is something that fits the individual uniqueness of each child. Better yet, don’t compare your child to others at all, as there is no one like him or her, remember?

Remembering that since the government’s claim to having authority in education is self-proclaimed and not God-given, government has to treat students as products of their system. In that light, standards make sense, but only when viewed through the lens of conformity. God’s created diversity insists on us all being different.

Incidentally, the only way anybody can make a difference in this world is if they are different. Let’s celebrate the differences and never mind averages or standards. Also consider that if we are all the same, we are much easier to control, which may be the ambition of government, but certainly not of God.

There is no pass, no fail, no behind, no ahead, no above, or below in home education. Only progress in due time. Encouraging students to be the best that they can is all that is required of us by God. Certainly, that is sufficient.

Where & How? A Practical Guide to Home Education – Getting Started (Part 7)

Now that we have dealt with the philosophical issues and the price one has to pay for walking that “straight and narrow” path, let’s deal with a few practical matters related to home education.

For starters, although we have seen a few rare occasions where both parents work, most home educating families are single income, with a stay at home mom overseeing the task of education.

However, if the father understands his God-given authority for the welfare of his family, he will take the responsibility for the education of his children seriously and have his wife help him meet that obligation. (Wife=Helpmeet.)

There is no doubt that this constitutes a sacrifice on the part of the parents, but time will demonstrate that while you may have a few less toys and reduced opulence, you will end up with something far too many people are willing to give up for those temporal items… a real loving family! Turns out the sacrifices made end up being the best investment possible.

Remember, you cannot take your stuff with you to heaven, but you can make sure your children are there.

Scheduling is not necessary, but likely works best for most people. If having a schedule is best for the family, make sure it is one that fits the unique nature of your family and not the school.

Where you conduct your home education can best be described as where you happen to be at the moment. Some people like to have a dedicated room where concentrated learning takes place and where a door can separate that activity from the rest of the family’s busy life.

I am not going to discourage the creation of a special room, but I will suggest two things. Don’t call it a school room because it is not and don’t be surprised if the venue of choice is the kitchen table! If we define home education as JUST BEING A FAMILY, a special room for learning may become too confining to really serve as a place of learning.

Likely the biggest question most home educators, especially beginners, have is which curriculum should be used? The first thing I need to say about curriculum is that it is not necessary.

You heard me! People were learning long before someone got the idea to create a one-size-fits-all method of teaching things that actually fit very few! Suffice it to say that children will be learning, no matter what resources are used or made available.

Un-schoolers, famous for their avoidance of curriculum use, most certainly are not without resources. Books, libraries full of them, become the focus and delight of learning, not to mention the limitless resources and opportunities of the computer and internet.

In fact, most every opportunity becomes an educational moment when living together as a family intent on discovery and truth finding.

Having said that, most people cannot start that free. Most want some kind of structure to begin with. Not that un-schooling is unstructured, but it can be without the comforts of having something tangible to follow.

That said, it is the parents that require the curriculum, not the students, who likely have limited interest in learning what “someone” who knows nothing about them has determined they need to learn.

Parents, mom in particular, like having something they can use to measure progress. Something that can enable her to tell dad that so many pages or chapters were completed when he asks for an accounting of the day upon his return from work.

It’s okay to use curriculum. Whatever works best for your family. However, there are a few things you need to know about curriculum before you choose from the vast selection available.

The first thing you need to know is that any curriculum following a grade level system, is not only founded on a secular school methodology, but likely designed to be delivered by a teacher in a classroom. Most of the curriculum available is of this nature. Remember that “Christianizing” a secular process doesn’t fix it.

Some curriculum is designed with individuality and portability in mind, but most are not. Prescribed programs often using ten booklets as a year’s worth of work, usually include all that is needed to get the job done, according to someone’s else’s idea of what needs to be done. Many parents use this to start until they become more comfortable with using a variety of resources determined by their specific family needs.

There are also a great number of resources that are not really grade specific, but interest based, such as standalone book sources, web sites, and apps, although some of the computer based programming can become rather restrictive. I cannot hide my enthusiasm for the tablet as a supercool tool for learning.

Regardless of what you determine to do respecting the use of curriculum, always remember that you are the boss, the one in charge of what will be learned and when.

Getting caught up in a school-based program can become a handicap, especially past puberty, when children are much more capable of accomplishing a much greater amount of work than what is required at a school, in a much shorter time.

And remember, if the child understands the concept, there is no need to have him or her learn it over and over again, nor to complete the entire array of questions presented. Children are as unhappy about having their time wasted as we adults are.

Finally, be careful of taking advice from others, no matter how well meaning they may be. There is no lack of individuals willing to advise others and these people are often helpful.

However, always remember that your children are unique in this world and what may work for one family or student may be a hindrance for another.

Now What? A Practical Guide to Home Education – Getting Started (Part 6)

Okay. So you and your spouse have agreed to home educate and to do so by rethinking the educational status quo. If you are an Alberta resident, you have even found the provider, or shall we say the best way to proceed legally without abdicating authority to others.

Most importantly, you have determined to base your family on the foundation of God and you are aiming for heaven, through Jesus.

I am assuming, of course, that all the above are true and that, furthermore, you have determined to trust in God rather than put confidence in man. But, now what? Persecution! That’s what!

I have seen a lot of biblical promises come to reality in my life, but none greater than the assurance of being opposed for standing on truth. Jesus said many things regarding truth, including that it would set us free to be who God wants us to be and that offence caused by living and speaking it would lead to persecution.

My experience has also shown that this persecution, while coming from a single source, is manifested in two ways. Aside from our own internal struggles, external persecution comes from inside as well as from outside the system.

In the home education world, for instance, external persecution may take the form of government opposition, which is likely easier to handle than the internal opposition coming from family and friends, which can often be far more sinister and destructive.

Please understand that, when doing something outside the status quo, you are, without saying a word, making the statement that you are not in agreement with it and by extension, that those still a part of it, are in error.

This is so, even when you insist on using the “live and let live” or “to each his own” approach, or carefully avoiding any talk about the “prohibited” topic. However, avoiding the issue or pretending there is no issue, is not the best approach.

We were instructed by the apostle Peter to always be ready to render an account for the hope that is within us. I suppose that I may be taking a bit of license in this interpretation, but I take this to mean that we should be ready to defend our decisions, especially when they go against the grain.

In fact, that may be the only time we have to do so, since we are not likely to be questioned when doing what everybody else is doing.

Although the decision to train and teach your own children at home is becoming more accepted, it is still a “radical” decision in the eyes of most people. Radical decisions make others nervous for two reasons.

Firstly and understandably, others may be genuinely concerned for your welfare and that of your children. This is often the reason grandparents, who may not have your understanding respecting home education, or who unquestioningly endorse the “normal” way of doing things, sincerely express their concerns. This is usually, eventually resolved as they see the positive growth and progress of the children.

The second and likely main reason for opposing your “radical” decision is that it causes people to be uncomfortable with the decisions they have made. This is especially the case within the dichotomous “for Him or against Him” Christian world view perspective. From this perspective, if you have decided to do the job of educating your children yourself and others have decided not to, you cannot both be right.

This reality is often buried erroneously under the banner of choice. Clearly, we are all free to choose what we want to do and nobody is going to hell for making “the wrong decision” regarding the education of their children. However, it is fair to say that every decision brings the applicable consequences or results and it is also fair to say that some decisions are simply better than others.

Still, when confronted with either having to endorse your decision, or disagree with it, you will find that most people would rather “shoot the messenger” than admit a potential for error on their part. You may think this to be unfair, especially if you have not been vocal about your decision, but, as previously stated, your decision speaks volumes, even without using words.

Really! You will likely find it hard not to talk about your home education program because it will occupy nearly your entire life. So, what else is there to talk about? Weather gets old, fast.

A more dangerous form of internal persecution and likely the greatest source of discouragement, fear and self-doubt, will be your fellow home educators who did not determine to leave their school indoctrination behind when choosing to bring their children home.

This is made even more sinister in Alberta, where funding follows students. An industry has been created around this funding and those involved have long understood that the very reason the government made that funding available was to maintain control of all educational platforms. They also know that the more school they offer, the easier it is to please the average home educator who has not thought about what home education is or should be.

Now what? Be prepared to have to remind yourself every day of the scripture, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” and be prepared to be tested almost daily by those who would have you put your confidence in man, as they have.

Legalities! A Practical Guide to Home Education – Getting Started (Part 5)

We live in a world of rules and regulations that generally have us do what we are supposed to do rather than what we want to do. In any case, we do need rules to avoid living in chaos, even if we don’t like them at times. Education is a good example.

The question is: who has authority over children, particularly when it comes to education? I intend to fully explain this someday, but for now, let’s just say that the parents who have brought the children into the world would obviously have the responsibility to train, teach and raise them, which is not possible if they do not have the God-given authority to do so.

Suffice it to say that parents are given the legitimate authority for all things pertaining to children. While government may claim to have this authority, God has not given it this authority. Simple logic should bring us to understand that God would not give children to parents and expect government to educate them. Had that been the case, most parents would have deemed potty training as a government responsibility, no doubt!

Once it is clear that parents have the God-given authority and responsibility to train, teach and guide children to adulthood, it is important to note what has to be done to stay out of trouble with the government and its false claims.

Too often, people quote the “render unto Caesar” passage as license to give our children to the government, but once again, consider that God gave them to parents, with no provision for handing off or abdicating the responsibility for raising them.

The rules in Alberta are simple, yet complicated. I am not going to deny that there are ways one can simply ignore the government directives respecting the education of children, but sometimes it is easier to simply play along.

Every child between the ages of six and sixteen in this province must be registered to receive some kind of education. Parents have the option to enroll students in a choice of schools, bring school home or educate the children the way they see fit.

Obviously, it is no burden, at least not at this time, to simply let the government know that the children are being educated, by you, at home, in a way that you approve of. This allows the government to think that it has authority while allowing you to exercise your God-given responsibility to train, teach and guide your children in keeping with God’s directives.

It may appear to be a compromise to some, but giving government what they want, which ostensibly is a desire to see all its citizens get a quality education, while parents retain authority to do so, is not “sin.”

Once understanding our place in this process, the question becomes, with whom will I register or notify? Alberta is unique in funding its home educated students without jurisdictional boundaries. This means that students can be registered either with the local school “authority” or any willing, non-resident one.

I do not recommend registering or notifying with the local school board. The local school system likely has little to no sympathy for, or understanding of, home education and so will naturally direct parents and students back to school, in one form or another. Not only do they believe that only schools can educate children, but there is also a monetary incentive for doing so.

Registering or notifying with a non-resident board provides far more choice and options. Once again, one must emphasize the importance of finding a board that will serve you, rather than manipulate your allegiance to their own benefit. Willing, non-resident boards can be public, separate or private schools, but very few, if any, truly understand the heart of unschooling parents.

It is also important to understand that since home education is funded in Alberta, money can become the primary focus, not only for home education providers, but perhaps even for home educators. Money should be the last criteria for choosing which school “authority” to notify with.

I have created a document that you may find helpful entitled, “Questions a Christian Home Educator Should Ask…” which lists a number of considerations for everyone involved in home education, including the parents. You can find it on our web site, by going to Resources, clicking on Home Education Guide and following through the steps provided to specifically address your present home education situation.

Summarizing, don’t simply believe what you are being told by potential home education providers. Knowing that your children come with money should alert you to go beyond the rhetoric.

Go to their web sites; look into their history; ask yourself, how has this board contributed to the long term best interest of home education? Consider the extent to which school based philosophy and accreditation is advanced; and make sure you will be the authority, otherwise you will be brought right back to the school-based thinking you want to escape.

Oh, and remember, just because a large number of people are doing something, does not mean what they are doing is right or the best option for you. If you make an informed decision in keeping with what is best for your family’s spiritual well-being, everything else will be added unto you.

A Solid Foundation: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Getting Started (Part 4)

Any structure can only be as good as its foundation, as this is the starting point from which one is going. A flawed foundation can only lead to a flawed building, whether physical, intellectual, familial, spiritual or what have you.

Jesus called the good foundation a rock upon which the “building” will stand against what comes at it. A bad foundation He likened to sand which can withstand nothing, in the end. One does not have to be an engineer to understand this.

Home education is no different. In fact, this is precisely what Jesus was alluding to when he spoke of foundations. He was not nearly as interested in constructing buildings as He was in building lives. Child rearing is about building lives.

Since parents only get one opportunity to raise their children, it is important that the job be well done, the first time, or, more accurately, the only time available to us.

Bringing children into the world is one of the greatest blessings, although a mother may take exception to that statement once delivery time comes upon her! This is called labour for good reason, but that ends up being only the beginning of a task that becomes the biggest and most important job parents will ever face in life.

I am not sure if you have thought of this, but raising children is not for cowards! Raising good children takes work. Raising Godly children takes dedication, commitment and a trusting faith in God, along with believing in His promised provisions for our lives and the tasks He has given us to do, especially regarding children.

This task is hardly a part time job! To achieve what God has asked us to do with the children He has given us, takes a full time commitment, best delivered in the environment expressly created for this task, which is as a family, in the family home.

And… once again, there is serious need for a foundation upon which this family will be established and built, and without which there can be no clear direction from which to go.

I know that I have shared this story before, but it is worth repeating. It took place a long time ago, at the moment I first held my new baby, who today is a mother of four children, herself! I can still remember the feeling of suddenly being thrust into a position of leadership with no direction. My heart told me that I was responsible for leading her somewhere and it frightened me that I did not know where.

Fortunately, I had been doing some serious studying of the Bible as a non-believer. I knew enough to know that I would never know where I was going until I was sure of where I was.

Similarly, without a clear understanding of where you stand, you have little hope of knowing where you are going. This is directed at all parents, but specifically to those embarking on their home education journey.

I assume that since you are reading this blog that you are a person in search of truth. Otherwise there would be no need for you to be here as those who have already “found it” are already “perfected.” But, just in case you have not, let me strongly suggest that you build your family structure on something fully immutable, namely God.

The Bible gives us a very strong clue right from the start… “in the beginning… God” and it ends with “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you, amen.” In between the beginning and the end, the central verse of the Bible, Psalm 118:8, says that “it is better to trust the Lord than to put confidence in man.”

Looking at the beginning, the end and the middle of the Bible provides us with our starting point, our goal and the means to get there.

Understand that you cannot get a more solid foundation than upon Him who created all things! Creating and building a family on a foundation based on the Creator sounds like a winner to me!

Ultimately, we all die and it is assumed that given a choice, we would rather choose heaven than hell. Hell is easy to get to. That’s why parenting is so difficult. To make matters worse, even though we may desire heaven for us and our children, none of us can make it on our own.

That is why the end of the Bible is instructive. Want to bring your family with you to heaven? Then “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you… amen!” He is our perfection, the way, the truth and the life. He is the only way we make the “grade,” so to speak.

Putting our trust in God the Creator, rather than putting confidence in man, the created, sounds to me like a wise way by which to build a family. Agreed?

Now, with God as a solid foundation, with heaven through Jesus Christ as the ultimate destination, your home education program is clearly destined for success.

Knowing this is the easy part. The most challenging part of your home education journey will be keeping your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of the faith. You will need to trust in God rather than putting confidence in man, who will have no lack of volunteers to help you forget your foundation and miss the mark of your eternal goal.

Finally, trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will establish your plans. Sounds like a winning plan to me!

Getting Started: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Getting Started (Part 3)

The most difficult part of any job or venture is starting. No matter how much you have researched, observed, planned, imagined, thought or prayed about this new venture, the fact that our world view is corrupted with misinformation means that any decision is usually accompanied by unknowns, bad ideas, hang ups and baggage that bring about fears and insecurities. Determining to educate your own children at home is no different.

The common act of sending our children to perfect strangers, separated from parents and family, to be “trained” in the ways of the world is so ingrained that it is rarely questioned. When it is, you will discover that the system is broken and bringing it home won’t fix it. To home educate requires a paradigm shift in thinking, otherwise it is bound to challenge, frustrate, and eventually terminate your resolve to teach your children at home.

Although I personally believe home education is the best option for training, teaching and guiding children, I am not so naive as to think that everyone can do it. In a perfect world those who can would assist those who can’t, but this world is hardly perfect.

Having said that, I still believe the best decision will undoubtedly be to do the job yourself. No doubt the best time to make this decision is before the children start “school.” Starting from the beginning means there is no need for repair. The longer children are in school before coming home, the more difficult the task.

However, the biggest issue with keeping or bringing the children home will nearly always be that the school comes home as well. There are very few home educators who were home educated and even fewer who do not normalize the school’s way of approaching education.

That is why we spend so much time on this topic. Time keeps me from telling of the many home education programs that started on the right foot, only to be sabotaged at some point by schools, or people who trust government as the source of wisdom for the education of children.

What is even more disappointing is how many start home educating, claiming that they are doing so in obedience to God, but simply don’t trust Him to see the process to the end. Many lose their resolve to continue once the children get to the high school level.

This is a classic real world example of the apostle Paul’s statement to the Galatians when he called them foolish, who having begun by the Spirit, expected to be finished or completed by the flesh.

Simply put, this is either a lack of understanding or more precisely a lack or crisis of faith. When nearly every student and parent has experienced nothing but some variation of school, it is easy to understand how this can happen. After all, you have a much, much better chance of people encouraging you to return to what you know than to continue with what you don’t.

The most troubling words I can hear when meeting a family just embarking on their home education journey is when one of the parents tells me that he or she is a certificated teacher. Not that this is bad, but it means that they have not only experienced twelve years of classroom learning, but an additional four years of Godless, unbiblical, anti-Christian indoctrination at college!

Make no mistake about this. A “Christianized” version of secular thinking is still secular thinking. Believers should understand that there are no versions or variations of the truth. It is either the truth or it is not. A critical look at school will provide ample opportunity to question the logic, sense and “truth” upon which it is based.

Since nearly all those choosing to home educate are indoctrinated to think, normalize, defend and/or emulate school, our biggest and most frustrating job is the deprogramming of parental school-based thinking while encouraging them to have faith in God.

No doubt it would be easier for us to simply prey on this misinformation, and while it may earn us more clients and money, it would not earn us the “well done thou good and faithful servant” we want to hear at the end of our journey here on earth.

So, let’s sum this up. In a nutshell, for home education to work, both parents have to agree to home educate; both need to be involved, at least in some capacity; and it is a mistake to bring school home, either in philosophy or technique.

Without a clear desire to do something different, you will end up with the same. To desire to outperform the school, you may end up with a better “product,” but like any other thing, it will still be a “product.” If school is not based in biblical truth and philosophy or shall we say, is “bad” from a Christian perspective, then to do the same, only better, results in a “better bad,” not an alternative.

Understand that compromising Christianity with school philosophy produces a logical inconsistency that will eventually undermine our commitment to God and consequently, our home education.

Training, teaching and raising children is no small task and deciding to do it yourself at home makes this task easier than having to live with school, but you had better have a plan or you may be planning to fail. We will talk about this next time.

Target Audience: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Getting Started (Part 2)

Before creating any book or guide, the intended audience must be identified. So who am I aiming this work at? Who will benefit from following this effort?

Generally speaking, you could say that I am appealing to parents, as the topic is education, but education does more than prepare a child for the future. It creates the society we end up living in. So, even though the main target audience is parents, most anybody concerned about the state of our modern day society may be interested in what I have to say.

Today’s “anything goes” political and social environment is essentially recreating and normalizing most things on the basis of feelings, rather than fact. This new “reality” comes with the overarching objective of destroying any religious system that advances the existence of rights and wrongs, truth in particular.

It seems that everything is on the social justice butcher table these days. Nothing is sacred and it seems that nothing is worth defending except, of course the many causes of the social justice warriors, who often make a mockery of the very freedoms they claim to be defending. However, there is one thing that has avoided criticism from seemingly every agency advancing nearly any cause in every corner of the world.

Nobody touches the sacrosanct value and esteemed position of public education. Indeed, calls are being made in Alberta to amalgamate separate schools into public schools, defund and/or outlaw private schools, and to make home education as difficult as possible, essentially advocating that all students must attend a compulsory, secular humanist, public school monopoly.

In fact, the “progressive” NDP Government, likely an anomaly in Alberta’s political history, has undertaken the rewriting of the entire k-12 curriculum with the objective of making students “who are agents of change to create the globe that they want to be a part of.” Yet, very few people expose schools for what they are.

To challenge the status quo indoctrination system is a very dangerous thing to do, as not only does it involve the Godless, un-biblical, anti-Christian sentiment of the masses, but questions the daycare system parents have grown to enjoy in the name of “parental freedom from child-rearing responsibility.” To oppose public schools is therefore to make the world your enemy.

If you can look past all the rhetoric, the craziness, the name-calling, the belligerence and self-righteousness; if you take a serious look at what is happening, two things should become clear to those who subscribe to the Christian worldview.

The first is that the modern day enemy of the “new society” is God, particularly the Judaeo-Christian God. Since God has declared Himself to be the only God, with expectations of the mankind He has created, He has gotten in the way of the “all-things-are-good-if-you-feel-they-are” mindset being established as the “new norm.”

The second observation is that public education is essential to bringing about change to the existing system.

Now, I am not going to pretend that I can see, or know, or understand, all that is going on in the world today, but I can say that it has drastically changed, especially in the last few years.

From my Christian perspective, it appears like all hell has broken loose and that the most effective way to disseminate the “message” of the “new world order” is through the un-scrutinized government programming used in nearly every school in the English-speaking world.

Therefore, my audience is everyone with even the slightest concern about what the public school is advocating and normalizing, but particularly Christian parents, both present and future, as they decide on the best approach to the training and teaching of their children. This includes a variety of people at different stages in their lives and with differing backgrounds, experiences and “hang-ups.”

There are the seriously proactive parents with “preschool” children or no children at all. Then, there are the parents of “school-aged” children including: those just starting; those who have had some exposure to a school system; and those who are wanting to escape from the school system they brought home, favouring traditional home education or un-schooling, instead.

Even if we may have some fundamental differences in philosophy, it is assumed that we all share some common beliefs, including:

– Parents have the authority with respect to their children regardless of claims otherwise.

– Parents teaching their children in the safety of their home are better than strangers teaching them in a school.

– Parents usually desire the best for their children and take that responsibility seriously.

– Parents are usually best able to meet the individual learning needs of their children.

By now you have come to the conclusion that I will be coming from a Christian perspective. You should also know that I have to pick some starting point, so I will be approaching most topics from the point of view of only and always having home educated.

Please go to the Home Education Guide at www.educationunlimited.ca/resources for a more comprehensive discussion of starting points.